Your weekly ScamWatch
Online dating – People who use online dating services should know that what seems like love may only be a ruse to get money, the Federal Trade Commission warned in a recent bulletin. Some people use the sites to form bonds and then ask for money, the FTC said. Consumers should be cautious if someone they meet online immediately professes love or requests money for travel, visas or other travel documents, the FTC said.
Investment adviser – A former Visalia financial adviser has been arrested on suspicion of stealing at least $2 million from clients he met through his church and other means, the FBI said. Jesse Alvin Cripps, 57, allegedly told investors that he would put their money in a real estate investment trust that could earn more than 10% a month. Instead of investing the money, raised from 2001 to 2008, Cripps used it to pay business and personal expenses, the FBI said. Many investors lost their entire savings in the scheme, according to the FBI.
Government grants - A company that promised access to government grants but is accused of secretly debiting customer accounts has agreed to cease operations in a settlement with the FTC. The company that operated Grant$ for You Now asked for consumer credit card numbers to process a $1.99 fee for access to the grants but then secretly charged customers an additional $72 to $95 a month, the FTC alleged. As part of the legal settlement, the company agreed never again to market or sell any grant-related products or services.
Telemarketing fraud – A Vancouver, Canada, man who duped consumers, many of them older Americans, out of $1.8 million by telling them they needed to pay taxes in advance to collect foreign lottery winnings has been sentenced to more than 14 years in federal prison. Dillon Sherif, 49, an Iraqi national, pleaded guilty in June to three counts of telemarketing fraud against the elderly. He was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Dean D. Pregerson in Los Angeles.
-- Stuart Pfeifer